Waiting Times may be on the Rise in Britain as the NHS Struggles to Cut Costs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 26th, 2012

Week in Review

It would be nice if we could step into a time machine to see how a government policy would turn out in the future.  To see if it did everything they said it would do.  If it made things better.  Or if that policy would be a complete and utter failure.  Well, time machines don’t exist.  But we can do the next best thing to time travel.  We can look at another nation that long ago enacted similar legislation.  And see what it did for them.  Such as looking at Britain.  And their National Health Service (NHS) (see Join the back of the queue: Waiting times set to soar as NHS trusts suffer from tough cuts by Anna Edwards posted 8/23/2012 on the Daily Mail).

Patient waiting times may increase as a growing number of hospitals face financial difficulties, a report warned today.

NHS foundation trusts, a marker of excellence in the NHS, are facing the challenge of improving quality of care while being forced to make cuts.

Trusts have told the regulator Monitor they are coming under ‘increasing pressure’ to meet accident and emergency waiting times and referral to treatment targets.

Under Labour, hospitals were told patients should be have to wait no longer than four hours to be treated in A&E, and should be given hospital treatment within 18 weeks if they are referred there by a doctor.

But struggling hospitals warn these targets may not be met as they face tough financial difficulties…

‘Particular challenges come from the need to improve the quality of care while delivering considerable savings each year.

‘Foundation trusts are planning to do this without planning to treat fewer patients or reduce the level and quality of care they provide…

‘NHS leaders know the real challenge is to tackle a flat budget while managing the increased costs of treating an ageing population, advanced technology and the growing rates of lifestyle diseases such as obesity.

An aging population and a flat budget?  There’s a little more to that than just a flat budget.  And it has to do with that aging population.  The growth rate of retirees (large consumers of health care) is greater than the growth rate of new taxpayers (people entering the workforce to pay taxes that pay for the retirees).  So available funding of the NHS is falling.  It’s not flat.  Funding is falling while demand for health care services is rising.  And it will continue to rise until the baby boomers die out.  And the pyramid re-inverts itself to where there are more people entering the workforce than are leaving the workforce.

This is why waiting times are growing.  More patients with less funding mean fewer doctors and nurses.  And fewer medicines, medical devices, surgeries and treatments.  Which means people wait longer.  Or are simply denied treatment.  Thanks to a system of rationing.

If everyone provided for themselves through a policy of being responsible this would not happen.  If they didn’t tax the people so excessively to support a welfare state they would have more money to spend on themselves.  To pay for routine doctor’s bills.  And to buy an insurance policy for the unexpected and catastrophic medical expense.  It would work.  Everyone paying a little bit on insurance to pay for the few with unexpected and catastrophic medical expenses.  Because that’s exactly how taxpayer funded health care is supposed to work.  The only problem is that the taxpayer funded variety includes everything.  Even those routine doctor bills.  Requiring excessive taxation.  And when the economy slows down, or a population ages, you simply can’t pay for everything any longer.

And so it will be with Obamacare.  Where policies have to cover everything.  And everyone will have to pay a little bit to cover everything.  Even birth control.  Only that little bit will become a lot.  Because it IS paying for everything.  And all of this with an aging population.  And a much larger population than Britain.  About five times the population.  And about five times the patients there will be in Obamacare.  Making the waiting times and rationing look mild in the NHS by comparison.

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